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Functions of the Competition Authority of Kenya

The functions of the Competition Authority of Kenya are set out in the Competitions Act. The Authority’s mandate is to enforce the Act to enhance the welfare of the people of Kenya by promoting and protecting effective competition in markets and preventing misleading market conduct throughout Kenya.

The Competitions Act establishes the Competition Authority of Kenya. The Authority should be independent and should perform its functions and exercise its powers independently and impartially without fear or favour.

The Authority should be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and should, in its corporate name, be capable of—

  • suing and being sued;
  • purchasing or otherwise acquiring, holding, charging and disposing of movable and immovable property;
  • borrowing money; and
  • doing or performing all other things or acts necessary for the proper performance of its functions under the Competitions Act, which a body corporate may lawfully do or perform.

Members of the Competition Authority of Kenya

The membership of the Competitions Authority of Kenya should consist of—

  • a chairperson appointed by the President;
  • the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for the time being responsible for finance or their representative;
  • the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for the time being responsible for trade or their representative;
  • the Attorney-General or their representative;
  • the Director-General who is the chief executive officer of the Authority; and
  • five other members appointed by the Minister for the time being responsible for finance from among persons experienced in competition and consumer welfare matters, one of whom should be experienced in consumer welfare matters. The members should, before their appointment to the Authority, be vetted and approved by Parliament through the relevant Committee of Parliament.

Functions of the Competition Authority of Kenya

The functions of the Competition Authority of Kenya should be to—

  • promote and enforce compliance with the Competitions Act;
  • receive and investigate complaints from legal or natural persons and consumer bodies;
  • promote public knowledge, awareness and understanding of the obligations, rights and remedies under the Competitions Act and the duties, functions and activities of the Authority;
  • promote the creation of consumer bodies and the establishment of good and proper standards and rules for such bodies to follow in protecting competition and consumer welfare;
  • recognize consumer bodies duly registered under the appropriate national laws as the proper bodies, in their areas of operation, to represent consumers before the Authority;
  • make available to consumers information and guidelines relating to the obligations of persons under the Competitions Act and the rights and remedies available to consumers under the Act;
  • carry out inquiries, studies and research into matters relating to competition and the protection of the interests of consumers;
  • study government policies, procedures and programmes, legislation and proposals for legislation to assess their effects on competition and consumer welfare and publicise the results of such studies;
  • investigate impediments to competition, including entry into and exit from markets, in the economy as a whole or in particular sectors and publicise the results of such investigations;
  • investigate policies, procedures and programmes of regulatory authorities to assess their effects on competition and consumer welfare and publicise the results of such studies;
  • participate in deliberations and proceedings of government, government commissions, regulatory authorities and other bodies concerning competition and consumer welfare;
  • make representations to government, government commissions, regulatory authorities and other bodies on matters relating to competition and consumer welfare;
  • liaise with regulatory bodies and other public bodies in all matters relating to competition and consumer welfare;
  • advise the government on matters relating to competition and consumer welfare.

Power to hold inquiries

The Competitions Authority of Kenya may conduct an inquiry or a sectoral study where—

  • it considers it necessary or desirable for carrying out its functions;
  • upon a direction by the Minister for the time being responsible for finance in writing to the Authority, requiring it to conduct an inquiry or a sectoral study into a matter specified in the direction.

A direction by the Minister as mentioned above should specify a period within which the Authority should submit its report to the Minister.

In proper cases, after the conclusion of an inquiry or a sectoral study, the Authority should in its report to the Minister identify sectors where factors relating to unwarranted concentrations of economic power subsist and give advice regarding measures that may ameliorate such situations.

At the request of a regulatory body, or at its instance, the Competition Authority of Kenya may conduct an inquiry into any matter affecting competition abuse of buyer power or consumer welfare and provide a report within a reasonable period.

The Authority should give notice of an intended inquiry or sectoral study by—

  • publishing a notice in the Kenya Gazette and at least one daily newspaper of national circulation specifying—
    • the subject matter of the intended inquiry;
    • inviting submissions on the subject from members of the public within a specified period; and
    • in the case of an inquiry conducted at the direction of the Minister, the terms of reference issued by the Minister;
  • sending written notice of the inquiry, including the information in the notice above to—
    • undertakings whose interests the Authority considers likely to be affected by the outcome of the inquiry;
    • industry and consumer organizations which the Authority considers may have an interest in the matter;
    • the Minister (for the time being responsible for finance).

Every person, undertaking, trade association or body should be under an obligation to provide the information requested by the Authority in fulfilment of its statutory mandate for conducting an inquiry or sectoral study regulated by this section.

For more about the Competitions Authority of Kenya, see the Competitions Act and visit their website at cak.go.ke.

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Gĩthĩnji is the founder of afrocave.com. He is passionate about politics and governance, public finance management and cycling.@Afrophi